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3.51  ·  Rating details ·  445 ratings  ·  103 reviews
The Black Dog of Depression has descended over the adults of Dublin. Uncles are losing their businesses, dads won’t get out of bed, mothers no longer smile at their children. Siblings Raymond and Gloria have had enough and set out one night with one goal in mind: to stop the Black Dog, whatever it takes. In a chase through the streets and parks and beaches of Dublin, the ...more
Hardcover, 183 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Harry N. Abrams (first published May 2014)
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Average rating 3.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  445 ratings  ·  103 reviews

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Apr 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
After I discovered that Roddy Doyle had written a children’s book and that he would be tackling the subject of depression, I was really keen to read it. In Brilliant, he tackles both the economic depression and the illness of depression, illustrating the link that the one can have with the other when a job is lost for example. The story is very readable indeed and captures the menace of the darkness that the big black dog brings with it. With his words he draws on this name for depression, the ...more
Aug 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: children, 2015
It started off really well but became quite repetitive - could have been a lot shorter and then more enjoyable. A great idea though and a way for kids to understand what depression is / open up for discussion.
My feelings about this book went back and forth quite a bit. There were bits that I really really enjoyed, that gave me goosebumps, that even made me tear up! Yet, I kept thinking about how I would have felt about this book as a young reader. I doubt I would have been able to understand a lot of the more adult concepts such as the financial stress of a mortgage. Nothing wrong with an adult having to explain a little further, but as a kid I probably wouldn't have asked anyone for clarification.

Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
Jul 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Middle Grade Readers & Parents, Teachers, Librarians
I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks for the opportunity.

Brilliant is a funny yet meaningful book for middle grade readers tackling the subject of depression in a very clever way.

The Black Dog of depression had invaded the city of Dublin. No humans noticed. But the animals did. The city's pets tried to warn their owners but the humans weren't listening. A bark was a bark, and a mew was just a mew.

When Uncle Ben comes to
Nancy Kotkin
Not much plot here. Two siblings like to hang out underneath the kitchen table late at night listening to adult conversation that they don't understand. At first their parents are aware they are there and watch what they say, but later the adults somehow don't notice them and stop censoring their dialogue. The children then go on a wild goose chase for an imaginary "black dog" that is plaguing all the adults in Dublin. They don't know why they are pursuing this creature, or what they hope to ...more
Rebecca Petruck
I chased this story through one sweet morning.

In what might seem the simple tale of children chasing down a dog in the night, huge themes are touched on--depression, love, and the power of community. Lovely language, talking animals, and gentle magic culminate in an oddly touching story that ends with a city's funny bone. I teared up and smiled while I did.

"They ran. They stayed warmer that way and running seemed to be the right way to measure their love for Uncle Ben. They wanted to hear
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this gentle fantasy set in Dublin. Two young children heard that the black dog (of depression) is ruining their uncles life so they set off on a quest to find and defeat it. The book is like the title - Brilliant.
Disability in Kidlit
"When the grown-ups speak sadly of “the black dog of depression,” the children assume that it’s a literal dog that has caused nationwide depression by stealing Ireland’s funny bone.

That premise alone is strange enough, but then this theory that the kids half made up turns out to be completely true. Gloria and Raymond go out one night and actually find the enormous dog that’s caused everyone’s depression. Naturally, such an enemy is dangerous to fight. Getting too close to it can make you lose
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sweet little book. Wasn’t sure if it was written for kids or adults.
Wayne McCoy
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
'Brilliant' by Roddy Doyle and illustrated by Emily Hughes is actually tied in to Dublin's Saint Patrick's Day parade. Back in 2011, Roddy Doyle was asked to write a short story and each chapter would tell a story of the float that people were seeing.

Raymond and Gloria like to sneak down and listen to what their mother and father are talking about. It's a fun game that the adults are in on. Ever since Uncle Ben came to live with them, the growups don't talk out loud at night, and when the kids
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
This cute book had such a hopeful and magical feeling about it. When the "Big Black Dog of Depression" takes over the city of Dublin, it's up to the children to get the city's funny bone back and get the adults laughing again. I loved how empowered and caring the children in this story are! The two main characters' (siblings Raymond and Gloria) Uncle Ben has moved in with them while he goes through some hard times. Through some clever eavesdropping, the kids learn their uncle has depression and ...more
Mar 17, 2016 rated it liked it
I wasn't sure the pumpkin princesses would enjoy this one as a bedtime story, but they really did. The 10-year old loved it all the way through; the 8-year old thought there was too much aimless chasing toward the end and would have liked a more complex resolution.
Sarah MacTavish
Stole my heart in one sitting. Beautiful, precious, clever, sweet, touching, funny, and important.
James Perkins
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
I recently came back from a trip to Ireland, so I thought I'd read something by the famous Irish writer Roddy Doyle. He's not well known for juvenile literature, so I was surprised he'd written a novel for children, but that didn't put me off. Well-written kids' books can be fun to read, even as an adult. Brilliant starts well: the sparkling Irish humour is there, the childish understanding is there, and the characters are realistic, if not detailed. But when the kids decide to fix everything ...more
Jul 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: storytime
My son and I enjoyed this storytime read... It was a humorous way of looking at hard times people go through and depression, but at the same time, I worry that a child might interpret the message to be "It's up to the children to save the adults from depression," when that is far too great an onus to put on a child... I don't think my son, who is sensitive to inferences, took it that way, but things brew in him for a while before the percolating takes place, so we shall see. If I had a family ...more
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Roddy Doyle creates a funny fictional story in his book Brilliant. The story starts off with the Black Dog Of Depression sneaks in to the city of Dublin at night. Nobody else knew until now. Siblings Raymond and Gloria set off to stop the Black Dog so they can save their uncle. They search for it but, they don't know how to be it. . The theme I get from this book is that you should stay positive no matter what. The Black Dog tries to make them feel like nothing but, they always stayed positive.

I really like the first four chapters of this book. The idea of the "black dog of depression" stealing Dublin's funny bone is a good one. But the rest of the book was just the kids running and talking to animals. That's it. It didn't really make sense and the book ended up feeling very choppy and random.
Sara K
Mar 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting idea of Dublin children saving their loved ones from the black dog of depression by rescuing the city's funny bone, but slow moving and seemed VERY repetitive as a read-aloud to my 7 year old.
lola Franco
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tween, young-adult
Actually a really lovely book about depression.
Jul 06, 2019 rated it did not like it
too draggy, illustrations so-so, not sure what age group would enjoy this
Karri-ann Flater
Sweet idea. Some funny moments. But not a whole lot to this story. Mostly a bunch of kids running around Dublin chasing the black dog of depression.
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sweet, touching, funny.
Feb 03, 2019 rated it liked it
A cute kids book, teaching about depression in a way that might be more accessible to kids.
What a strange story!
Liz Kidd
Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Good. Worth reading, but not as brilliant as I had been led to believe. A bit repetitive - although maybe that is the point.
Eimear Ní
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is fantastic
Give it a go
Mar 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: novellas, ya
A frequently touching little oddity that doesn't quite hold together.
May 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book started out with reasonably interesting characters and scenarios but it didn’t live up to the promise. The chase to find the black dog became rather interminable and the chanting of brilliant began to wear thin. And all the kids said ‘Oh my God’ constantly - was that what made them sound Irish? I just found it repetitive- and boring.
Colette V.
Sep 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the characteristics shared by a number of the junior novels I have read in preparation for this children's literature task is that they often involve children coming face-to-face with problems of the adult world, problems which they may not fully understand but which nevertheless give them reason for sadness, fear or worry. In "Brilliant" by the Irish writer Roddy Doyle, the issue raised is depression, both economic and psychological, and the anxiety caused in households by the spectre of ...more
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Full review is available at Thank you for reading!

After visiting Dublin last year, I absolutely fell in love with the culture, music, and whole country of Ireland. I was very excited to pick up this middle grade book from Roddy Doyle, an accomplished Irish author. Brilliant takes place in Dublin, with the entire story taking place in the 24 hours leading up to the annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade. In addition to having plenty of references to the Irish
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Roddy Doyle (Irish: Ruaidhrí Ó Dúill) is an Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter. Several of his books have been made into successful films, beginning with The Commitments in 1991. He won the Booker Prize in 1993.

Doyle grew up in Kilbarrack, Dublin. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from University College, Dublin. He spent several years as an English and geography teacher before becoming
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“Gloria screamed, but nothing came out. She could feel the scream in her throat, but it was clinging there, too scared to climb out of her mouth.

Raymond might have screamed, too--he wasn't sure. His face was an exploding red ball--that was what it felt like. His heart was in the middle of his head. He couldn't see a thing.”
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